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Oakland A’s Game #32: A’s scratch out ugly 3-1 win over Rangers

Hey, they all count the same in the standings

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers
This was a key RBI
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It has now been 29 years, one month, and 14 days since the Oakland A’s were last no-hit, the longest active streak in the majors by eight years. Fortunately, five hits were enough for them on Wednesday.

The Oakland A’s broke up a Kolby Allard no-hit bid in the 6th inning, and went on to capture a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

*** Game Thread #1 | Game Thread #2 | Game Thread #3 ***

The first half of the game brought familiar frustration, as the A’s powerful lineup couldn’t figure anything out against a starting pitcher they seemingly should have crushed — Allard entered the game with a 7.82 ERA. They finally broke through in the 6th, finding the hit column and also scratching out a pair of runs to take the lead.

After a pair of one-out walks, none other than RBI machine Stephen Piscotty singled sharply to bust the no-hitter and bring home Oakland’s first run of the night. After another walk to load the bases, a wild pitch gifted them a second tally in the inning.

Fast forward to the 8th and they scored another one, against reliever Jonathan Hernandez. This time Piscotty was the table-setter with a leadoff single, and two more singles later, Robbie Grossman was hit by a pitch to force home Piscotty.

On the other side of the ball, Mike Fiers turned out even better than Allard. He tossed a quality start, with six innings and just one unearned run, plus seven strikeouts and only five baserunners. Texas’ only run came on a throwing error by A’s catcher Sean Murphy, on a double-steal attempt.

It was an ugly win, one of those days when the winner doesn’t play great but the loser is even worse. But it counts the same in the standings, and this is the kind of game in which contending teams find some way to come out on top. The A’s did just that, and that’s one reason they have the best record in the American League at 22-10.

No hits, then some hits

The A’s couldn’t touch lefty Kolby Allard for five innings. They reached base on a walk and an error, and made a few loud outs, but weren’t able to get anything down for a hit, much less a run.

The finally put it together in the 6th. With one out, Marcus Semien and Ramon Laureano drew walks to give Oakland their first real chance at a rally. They were in need of a clutch hit to take advantage of the opportunity, and up stepped the player who has been the best at delivering those this year, not just in their own struggling lineup but in the majors overall. Stephen Piscotty got good wood on the ball (100.3 mph exit velocity) and came through once again, for his team-leading 26th RBI in his first day batting third in the order.

The no-hitter was over, the shutout was broken, and the lead was gone. New ballgame.

Mark Canha walked to load the bases, and Matt Olson took an 0-2 count. But the next pitch got away and went to the backstop, handing Oakland another run and their first lead. Olson struck out on the next pitch, and the other runners were later stranded.

The A’s added on in the 8th. Fate’s pendulum swung the opposite direction, and the team that couldn’t buy a hit for nearly two hours now strung together three consecutive singles to load the bases. They followed that with a fourth hit, but not of the same variety — Robbie Grossman was pegged by a pitch, forcing home a run and extending the lead to 3-1. The next three batters struck out.

They challenged again in the 9th, including a single by Semien, but their earlier work turned out to be enough. They finished the day 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but really two of their runs were heavily aided by Texas — they got themselves to third base, but were granted the final 90 feet for free. The box score shows five singles, six walks, and that perfectly timed HBP.

One bummer amid the win: Franklin Barreto finally got a start, but went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. We’re pulling for ya, Frankie!

Fiers extinguishes YOU

When Mike Fiers is on, he can chew through innings, and before you know it he’s put together a quality start.

The right-hander danced around trouble a few times but didn’t let anything ignite into a damaging rally. However, just as the Rangers gifted two runs to the A’s, Oakland also handed one to them. In the 3rd inning, Texas attempted a double-steal, and Sean Murphy’s throw sailed just over Barreto at second base and into center field, letting an unearned run come across. The error goes to Murphy, but perhaps at least half could be applied to Barreto, as it wasn’t a completely uncatchable ball and he even got part of his glove on it.

Fiers: 6 ip, 1 run (0 earned), 7 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 3 hits, 91 pitches (56 strikes)

At one point he struck out five straight batters, which isn’t necessarily something he’s known for doing. Great night by the Fiers.

Oh, and yadda yadda yadda, three nearly perfect innings from the bullpen, 9-of-10 batters retired, five strikeouts, etc. etc. It was Joakim Soria, Jake Diekman, and then Liam Hendriks for the save. We’re getting spoiled.

Final play

After the A’s got a bad shake from the home plate umpire on Monday, the Rangers took a tough break in the final play of this game.

With two outs in the 9th, Nick Solak hit a grounder to third, and Matt Chapman and Matt Olson connected on a nice play to retire him. However, replay proved that the ball had hit Solak’s foot on its way out of the box, which should have made it a foul ball. But it appeared that particular play must not be reviewable, because it was allowed to stand without challenge and the game was over.

This is more an example of being on the wrong side of a rulebook technicality than getting robbed by an ump’s call. And the situation wasn’t the same, with the bases empty, two out, and down by two runs, rather than what Oakland had Monday in the 9th (bases loaded, one out, down one). But still, we can surely empathize.

No finale

There would have been one more game in this series, but it will be postponed in protest of the recent police shooting of unarmed Black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.